Sound Transit’s light rail system will grow continue growing, and the existing light rail fleet will triple in size from 62 to 214 vehicles in 2024. The current operations and maintenance facility in Seattle, which can store and maintain 104 light rail vehicles, will reach capacity by 2020. A new facility was necessary to support East Link, Lynnwood Link and Downtown Redmond. The maintenance facility also needed to be near an operating light rail line, and be roughly rectangular in shape and up to 25 acres.
In July 2014, the Sound Transit Board of Directors identified the BelRed Corridor as its preferred site for an operations and maintenance facility. This site was evaluated in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) published in September 2015 and is posted online.
The City of Bellevue and Sound Transit agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and an Implementation Agreement ensuring that the two agencies would coordinate and collaborate during the design, permitting, and construction of East Link light rail and the Operations & Maintenance Facility East (OMF East). This collaboration was to ensure that traffic impacts were minimized, neighborhoods and businesses were accessible and informed and business needs and community concerns were addressed. The Implementation Agreement also set the framework for how the agencies would work together to ensure the common goals of delivery of the OMF East and providing TOD opportunities, ensuring both support and complement the Bel-Red Subarea Plan visions.
The new maintenance facility will support the efficient light rail operations approved and funded by regional voters in 2008. The OMF East will be used to store (overnight), maintain, and dispatch up to 96 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) for daily service by providing vehicle storage, preventative maintenance inspections, light maintenance, emergency maintenance, interior vehicle cleaning, and exterior vehicle washing. This facility will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and accommodate supportive administrative functions for approximately 250 full time employees.
With the Spring District/120th East Link station within walking distance of the OMF East site, both the City and Sound Transit are committed to recapturing the development potential and maximizing redevelopment of the overall facility project site.
In June 2017, Sound Transit selected the design-build team of Hensel Phelps to design and construct the OMF East facility and prepare design concepts for the future transit-oriented development (TOD) to be created from surplus property once the OMF East is constructed. The TOD concepts require review and approval through City permit processes, including a Master Development Plan (MDP) for the TOD and formal Design Review (DR) for the OMF East facility.
TOD is a type of community development that is a compact, walkable, mixed-use community centered around high-capacity transit. Bicycle and pedestrian connections to the Eastside Rail Corridor, wetland mitigation, and the daylighting of the West Tributary of Kelsey Creek are also planned for the area. The Bellevue City Council adopted TOD planning principles for the BelRed corridor to ensure the transformation of this vital employment and residential center.
Construction activities for the OMF East began in 2018 and concluded in 2020. A timeline for the TOD has not yet been determined. Once the final MDP has been approved by the City, Sound Transit will initiate the process of marketing surplus property for future TOD.